Hydrone overcomes creative stagnation, regroups with new lineup and songs

Joel Oliphint
Columbus Alive

When Mario Malachi moved to Columbus from Cleveland in 2018, he knew he wanted to start a new band that he could lead — a project he could call his own. “I wanted to be at the head of something,” he said. “Prior to that, I had only been a side person in other people’s bands, and I felt very dependent on them to drive the train.” 

So Malachi launched Hydrone and released 2019 EP Fissed, which featured Malachi singing and playing all the guitar, bass and drum parts himself. But a solo project wasn’t the end goal. Malachi sent the EP around and eventually recruited a bassist and drummer for the songs, and the trio began rehearsing and performing nearly every week.  

Hydrone had only existed about a year when the pandemic hit in March of 2020, which brought everything band-related to a strange, sudden halt. The bandmates went from a constant flurry of creative activity to a complete lack of personal interaction.  

“Pre-COVID, I channeled a lot my anxiety into performing. That was kind of a release of energy, and when that stopped, some of that built up and I had to learn other ways to get it out in a healthy way,” Malachi said. “The first couple of months were tough. I was definitely depressed as hell, wasn't leaving the house at all. I started working from home, and I got to the point where I was waking up in my pajamas, walking to my computer, sitting down, doing work for the day, and then eating dinner and going to bed. It was like time just didn't exist.” 

Malachi realized he needed to establish a routine, and once he did, the creative fog began to lift, and Malachi started stockpiling new songs for Hydrone, including fuzz-pop tune “Astral Vomit,” which the band released as a split 7-inch with Tetnis earlier this year. 

In the second half of last year, Malachi went through a breakup, moved into a new house and started a new job (after working on COVID clinical trials at Riverside Hospital, he’s now a clinical research coordinator at the hospital’s multiple sclerosis clinic). He was ready to start making a Hydrone record, so in the fall, Malachi and bassist Peter Brown started working on songs, and when the band’s previous drummer called it quits, the pair recruited Brian Baker to join Hydrone.  

“Brian drums similarly to me, which I like a lot, because when I write stuff, I'm thinking about drums,” Malachi said. “I play the drums, and my bass player actually also plays the drums, so we're a band of drummers, which is fun. The communication is very easy between the three of us.” 

In October, the trio recorded a 10-track album due to release this fall, and on Saturday, May 15, at 7 p.m., Hydrone will perform some of those tunes at a tabled and socially distant concert at Ace of Cups.  

The new record will come out on Clean Demon Records, another project Malachi helmed amid the pandemic. For now, it’s a small, DIY label that Malachi views as a landing spot for Hydrone and its various side projects, including Snurch, the synth/drums noise duo of Malachi and Brown. In March, Clean Demon also released the excellent solo record of Brian Baker (aka Brian Damage), Yesterday’s Slime.  

More:Brian Baker emerges from pandemic with 'Yesterday's Slime'

Even before the new Hydrone album releases, Malachi said the band has some songs in the works for a new EP. In 2021, Malachi isn’t waiting for permission to be creative. He’s leading the way.